June 1, 2012
Akshay Kumar, Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha, Paresh Ganatra, Nassar, Yashpal Sharma
Going by the sympathetic messages I received when I tweeted that I was watching Rowdy Rathore yesterday – a couple of weeks after its release – I assume I will be royally trolled for this review. Well, say whatever you wish in response, but make darned sure you “don’t angry me”!
All right, all right, I wanted an excuse to throw that line into this write-up. Because I had fun watching RR despite its loudness, the indifference to its heroine and evident disinterest in smoothening out its rough patches although that could have been easily done. On the bright side, this is Akshay back in his groove, aiming at that combination of action and comedy with which Salman Khan’s Dabangg hit the jackpot in 2010. Director Prabhudeva’s outing with Akki is not as cohesive or as well-thought-out as Abhinav Kashyap’s Salman-starrer, but there’s enough here to make Rowdy Rathore an enjoyable – even if illogical – film.
The story is so 1970s/’80s Bollywood that it’s easy to forget that RR is a remake of a 2006 Telugu hit called Vikramarkudu. Two men who look identical – save for the difference in the shape of their respective moustaches – suddenly find their paths crossing. One is a small-time crook and clown-about-town, Shiva (Akshay Kumar). The other is Vikram Rathore (Akshay again), an upright and unsmiling cop in a small town that is being terrorised by the politician Baapji (Nassar). Shiva falls for Paro (Sonakshi Sinha) and promises to give up thieving, but then plans one final con job that brings into his life a little girl who insists he’s her dad.
It’s a story with all the ingredients for an old-style Bollywood potboiler: a premi, a premika, a hamshakal, imaandaari, a menacing villain with ominous hangouts, some good ol’ naach-gaana and dishum dishum and some throwaway lines. Shiva’s “don’t angry me” is in the promos. When a bad guy inadvertently gets hanged by the belt of a policeman he had just humiliated, Vikram Rathore tells us that even the uniform of an honest officer does its duty. Clever dialogues flow as freely as punches and blood. And the songs Chinta ta chita chita and Aa re pritam pyaare are catchy and well choreographed (but of course, it’s Prabhudeva!); the latter is visually lovely too.
What works for Rowdy Rathore is that it does not take itself seriously and does not demand that we do either. That’s why it’s possible to pardon the film its many transgressions. Chief among them is the fact that it seems to forget many of its own gimmicks. For instance, Shiva initially enjoys rewinding to scenes he likes. No kidding, he actually touches an imaginary knob on the side of his head and turns back time. This gimmick is soon discarded for the next one. Shiva uses a particular hand movement in the choreography of Chinta ta chita chita a few times as a sort of signature. Paro too repeats it on a couple of occasions to refer to Shiva … but this too does not run all the way through. We are briefly introduced to Shiva’s hatred for kids, but once the little girl comes into his life, the animosity is gone in a few short scenes – it’s as though the writer inserted it in as an additional element much after the entire script had been written, to add drama to the child’s entry, but then didn’t know how to carry it through effectively.
In short, there’s much laziness and silliness in the writing and telling of this story. Rowdy Rathore takes us back to a time in Bollywood when medicine was not really a science. Remember when docs would feel a woman’s pulse and say, “Yeh toh maa banne waali hai”? In RR, water droplets falling on a man’s head prevent brain haemorrhage! The film also mindlessly chucks songs into the mix not caring whether they match the mood of the moment; and equally mindlessly chucks a couple of star guest appearances into a song, which is all very well if you have a stunning Kareena Kapoor going Chinta ta chita chita, or Prabhudeva showing us his incredible moves, but why did the director ask a Tamil superstar completely unknown to north Indian audiences to appear in the same song? Vijay deserves better than to have viewers asking, “Yeh kaun hai, yaar?” as did several people in the hall where I watched Rowdy Rathore.
And don’t get me started on the treatment meted out to Sonakshi Sinha who: (a) looks young enough to be Akshay’s daughter, (b) disappears for long periods while the hero goes about the business of being a hero, and (c) seems to only serve the role of a decoration piece whose kamar Shiva lusts after. All this could have been excused since Rowdy Rathore does not pretend to be anything but an Akshay Kumar vehicle with everyone else relegated to the background, but Shiva leering at Paro and saying “Mera maal” was downright offensive!
When I watched that scene, I was actually glad the heroine is hardly around. Because the rest of Rowdy Rathore is surprisingly entertaining despite its flaws. Unlike the directors of Salman’s Bodyguard and Ready, Prabhudeva thankfully does not seem to worship Akshay. There’s even a point at which a woman asks why Shiva thinks he’s so hot considering that he does not have SRK’s charm, Hrithik’s looks, Aamir’s cuteness or Salman’s body. Nice to know that Akshay can laugh at himself. Nice to know too that Akshay can still bash up large groups of baddies in style, goof around and display impeccable comic timing, all in the same film to such good effect that even a cynic like me came away smiling. The high point of RR is Shiva impersonating Vikram Rathore, adding a swagger to the deadly serious cop’s personality. This part of Rowdy Rathore is so hilarious that it almost made me forget everything that angried me in the film!
Rating (out of five): **3/4
CBFC Rating: U/A
Photograph courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rowdy_Rathore